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ECB DOMESTIC STRUCTURE: Next steps for Sussex Cricket Limited


ECB Domestic Structure - Next steps for Sussex Cricket Limited (SCL) Information for Individual Members and for Affiliated League Clubs
Meeting at The 1st Central County Ground at 7.00pm on Wednesday 12th October

The Sussex Cricket strategy is “Inspiring a Passion for Cricket – in the Heart of the Community”. We are fully aligned to the ECB strategy for wider engagement throughout England and Wales planned in “Cricket Unleashed.

We fully support the need to address the decline in participation in recreational cricket, which is mirrored in other team sports. Importantly we also have to inspire and excite young people as very few currently have an interest in cricket.

In Sussex, our ambitious plans to grow cricket interest and participation for all ages and sexes is delivered through our professional team, the 247 affiliated league clubs and our developing community activities by the Sussex Cricket Foundation.

The SCL Board met the ECB on 31st August to discuss options for restructuring the T20 competition. We recognise the risks to counties, including the financial state of some counties and an over dependence on international income. We also appreciate the opportunities, including the changing media landscape and the need to have meaningful cricket available free to view to attract more followers.

The Board position is, while we are open to change, we strongly prefer tournaments that feature all 18 First Class Counties. Accordingly we wanted the ECB to consider two options for T20. The first option retains the current NatWest T20 Blast, including all eighteen counties, reworked with a view to maximising the TV revenues.

The second option was with a city based additional tournament where we asked ECB for further comfort about many significant matters including: market research showing evidence of demand for a new team tournament (particularly given difficulties of other sports in the UK in this area); mitigation of marginalisation risks to non-host counties (in particular ownership, being seen as second class citizens, players moving to host counties, names/brands - with the unfortunate precedent set in the Women’s Cricket Super League); potential creep of city only teams into other domestic formats.

In essence we need evidence to support the assumption that an additional T20 tournament, that may be restricted to seven cities, will have a transformational impact resulting in a step change in the number of youngsters attracted to cricket when only eight of the matches will be available free to view. We also need to weigh the benefit of an additional £1m plus per annum per county against the risk that the T20 tournament involving eighteen counties becomes a devalued offering and that the ten counties that do not host the city tournament are set on a path of gradual comparative decline.

Both the above options that we wanted to be further developed would include a full County Championship programme, which is the traditional bedrock of the domestic season and the retention of a 50 over competition.

At the meeting of all First Class Counties and the MCC at the ECB on 14th September we proposed that the ECB Executive pursue these two options but this did not receive support. We therefore could not support the city tournament option without proper consideration of an alternative at the same time.

The majority of counties and the MCC agreed to ask the ECB Executive to work up details of a new eight team T20 competition to be staged in addition to the existing NatWest T20 Blast. Sussex Cricket will continue to participate in the process in a constructive way as we are not ruling out this option. However there is a huge amount of detail to be worked through before the ECB is in a position to seek agreement to a schedule majoring on the new brand city teams Accordingly the SCL Board will meet further with the ECB on 29th September.

Our Members are invited to a meeting on Wednesday 12th October at Hove at 7.00pm when we can explain the latest situation in detail and seek views.

Rest assured we are doing our best to ensure that we adapt for reasons of sustainability for future generations of Sussex Cricket. Equally we are taking account of the wider interests of cricket in this country.

Jim May,
Chairman, Sussex Cricket
22nd September 2016

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